Stress Less Project

Leerling met stress

This project is a collaboration with Leiden University and aims to strengthen the connection between education and youth care and aims to promote the mental health of adolescents. A Response to Intervention model is developed for the approach of school-related stress in secondary school. This is a multi-tier approach for early detection and support of vulnerable students. In phase one, first and second year high school students receive three classical and interactive lessons about stress. In phase two, students who want more help can self-select themselves for one of the skills-training programs offered by the study (performance anxiety or social skills training program).

This PhD project focuses on phase two. A Randomized Controlled Trial will be conducted to examine the effectiveness of two school-based skills-training programs aiming to promote mental health by improving either skills to deal with performance anxiety or social skills. A multi-informant (i.e., students and trainers) and multi-method (i.e., questionnaires and physiological measurements) approach will be used to assess program targets (skills to deal with performance anxiety or social skills), direct program outcomes (performance or social anxiety) and mental health outcomes (i.e., stress, internalizing and externalizing problems, self-esteem and well-being), as well as specific moderators (i.e., student and program characteristics, social support, perfectionism, stressful life events, perceived parental pressure, program alliance and program integrity).

The first wave of data collection started in the schoolyear 2018-2019 and comprises of pre- and postintervention measurements of 150 students. The second wave of data collection will be in the school year 2019/2020. We expect the first results at the end of 2020.


Our collaboration partners:

  • Dr. Hanneke Creemers (Amsterdam University)
  • prof. dr. Michiel Westenberg (Leiden University)
  • dr. Nadira Saab (ICLON, Leiden University)
  • dr. Anne Miers (Leiden University)
  • Simone Vogelaar (Leiden University)
  • Secondary schools in The Hague (College St. Paul, Maris College Kijkduin, Maris College Bohemen, Wellantcollege Madestein, Wellantcollege Westvliet, Johan de Witt, Rijswijks Lyceum/van Vredenburch College, Christelijk Lyceum Zandvliet, Christelijk College De Populier)
  • The city of The Hague
  • Providers of skills-training programs (Schoolformaat, Its4sure en Youz)


This project is funded by:

  • NWA Startimpuls, NWO (subsidienummer 400.17.601, werkpakket 3).